Man illustrates how to use a dab rig

How To Use a Dab Rig

Figuring out how to use a dab rig can be intimidating and confusing for beginners. Even cannabis connoisseurs have to learn new terms. Instead of loading a bowl, you’re using a nail. And instead of bud or nugs, you’re smoking shatter.

Even though the terms are different, you can rest easy knowing the concept is the same. Let’s dive into dabs and discuss the best way to get cotton candy-thick, cloudy rips from your dab rig setup.

Yes, this will be on the test. But don’t worry, everyone will puff, puff, pass!

The Dab Rig Setup

Before learning how to use a dab rig, you should learn the basic parts of the device and what they’re called. It’ll make the smoking instructions, aka the fun part, a breeze!

Dab Rig

A dab rig is a catch-all term for a pipe and all its different parts that you use to consume cannabis concentrate. Dab rigs vary in design but often look like variations of a bong.

The Nail

The heating element is called the nail. It needs to withstand high temperatures, so it must be made of a sturdy, heat-resistant material. Quartz is the most common type of nail, but you might also find ceramic, titanium, or glass options.

Nails slightly resemble the bowl of a bong. You might also hear people refer to them as bangers. For smoking shatter without butane, a common alternative to the nail is an e-nail.

The Dabber

The dabber is a cool little tool that wouldn’t look out of place in a workshop, but it’s a big part of how to use a dab rig. The dabber moves the concentrate from its container onto the nail. Because of the high temperatures used for dab rig setups, you need a strong tool to do this.

Butane Torch

Unless you’re using an e-nail for portable dab rigs, you’ll need a butane torch to heat up your dab rig setup. It might seem heavy-duty, and that’s because it is. A tiny lighter or match won’t give off enough sustained heat to reach the temperature needed to vaporize your concentrate.

Carb Cap

A carb cap is the unsung hero of the dab. It covers the and seals in the vapor before you release it to inhale. Without it, all your tasty cannabis clouds would float away.

The Dab

cannabis concentrate in a small jar over a book


Learning how to use a dab rig won’t get you anywhere without the dab itself! The dab is one dose of cannabis concentrate. Concentrates come in many forms. Experiment by smoking shatter, wax, glass, or other distilled versions of THC for their different effects and benefits.

Let’s Dab!

Now it's time to get to the fun part—dabbing! Some dab rig setups might have slight variations, but the main process of dabbing is the same. Once we walk through it, you'll see that it's a relatively simple process. Here's the step-by-step breakdown of how to use a dab rig.

1. Secure the Nail

The nail is going to get really hot, so you need to make sure that it’s secured properly to your rig. The last thing you want is a burned finger when you’re smoking shatter. Always keep in mind that dabbing involves high temperatures.

2. Heat the Nail

Now it’s time to play with fire! Heating the nail requires a healthy blast from your butane torch. Of course, this won’t be required if you have an electronic nail. Depending on your dab rig setup, some will go red when they heat up. It can take upwards of 30 seconds for your dab to reach the proper temperature.

3. Cool Off

After heating the nail, you’ll want to let it cool off. The general rule of thumb when learning how to use a dab rig is to wait twice the length of time you heated the nail. For example, after a 30-second blast from your torch, you need to let it cool for a full minute. Nails are excellent at retaining heat, so they’ll still be piping hot!

4. Add Your Concentrate

This is the essential part when learning how to use a dab rig. Using your dabber, grab your concentrate and move it onto the nail while you begin inhaling. The dab will turn to vapor quickly. Make sure you’re moving it around to evaporate all of the concentrate.

5. Cover It

Don’t let all your work getting your dab rig setup go to waste! Use a carb cap to cover up the cannabis vapor so it reaches your lips without escaping to the clouds.

6. Enjoy

For the uninitiated, smoking shatter or wax can be pretty intense. Take a moment to enjoy yourself as you feel the effects. Remember to take it slow if you’re new to dabbing. If you do want to repeat the process, let your rig cool down before going again. If your temperature is too high, it might irritate your lungs.

7. Clean Up

Cleaning the nail regularly will keep your rig hitting right. Use a Q-tip to wipe any residue left around the nail. Dab toolkits are available that contain solutions that make cleaning your rig easy.

Cannabis concentrate on a metal dabber


Dabbing Tips

The trickiest aspect of learning how to use a dab rig is heating the nail. Newcomers to dabbing might be intimidated by using a torch or an e-nail. While there’s an art to discovering the right amount of heat when smoking shatter or wax, practicing is fun!

The key is finding a temperature high enough to vaporize your concentrate without burning it. A little experimentation goes a long way to discovering your sweet spot.

We recommend beginners start with low-temp dabs. This means keeping your dab rig setup between 350 and 500°F. Dab thermometers are an easy and precise way to dial in your heat.

The Last Dab

There’s no need to be intimidated figuring out how to use a dab rig. It might take practice to perfect, but you’ll have fun doing it! Smoke King will be with you through every step of your dab journey. Our online smoke shop offers premium products at great prices so you can explore more!

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